JP On Gaming

Monday, January 9, 2012

5e: I told you so, with dates and times!

This morning, I was fully decided to publish part 2 of my chat with Teos and Chad. I also thought about posting about the Gamers' Haven auction on Saturday (you will see all the new minis I won here). But as I sat on my chair at work this morning, my twitter feed (@jpongaming) and other sources were a blur of activity with the news that 5e was coming out. So I have to post about that.

Today, the internet is abuzz with the news of 5e being worked on. Once again, a Prediction of DoomTM has come to pass. I promised you here that 4e would be dead an buried by Gencon 2013. I also talked about the dream team rebuild Wizards was getting together here.

My take on the whole deal

I think Wizards are on the right track on a number of things:

  • They involve the community. During the 4e PT, I felt like everything was already written and decided without any input. The only input I felt they wanted to hear was "this is great!" (which it wasn't).
  • In their announcements, they have not attacked 4e itself (or 3.5, or Pathfinder). Rather, they attacked the process that led to the release of 4e. I believe the attitude with which 4e was presented helped create the Edition War. By blasting a product I thought was good, it really pissed ME off.
  • They built a design team made up of people who have gaming creds before announcing the upcoming release of the game: Monte Cook, Stan Brown and Matt Sernett.
  • They are open about it. Openness helps build buzz. And buzz sells.

Things I would like to see:

  • PDFs. Will we have legal PDFs of D&D5? I saw nothing about this.
  • GSL/OGL. I think WotC would gain a lot by having something closer to the OGL. It allowed for a lot cheap content to come out quickly. Getting people to play the game. I doubt it'll be back. Although I don't think it'll be a big win if there is an OGL. I think an OGL would go a long way to foster goodwill.

I think Wizards has it wrong or should be wary about:

  • Stores with collections of 4e have paperweights for the next year-ish. I don't see these books moving a lot (except is "out with 4e" sales, and those should only appear closer to 5e's release date. Stores won't be happy, but don't have a choice in the matter.
  • No, I will not be buying any 4e book on sale... (I only spent 6$ on 4e and that was to play during a game day).
  • Not everyone will flock to the new edition. Many will look and try the game. I'm one of them. However, they have now lost a fair amount of market shares to other games. Getting everyone back to their own game system might be something of an uphill battle.
  • I am not yet sure of the business model they are going to use. Part of the business model includes the release schedule. 4e's schedule at release was INSANE. I mean RETARDED: two 40$ books a month. Later, they released their stuff slower and from all the feedback I got, the quality improved. Of course, by then only 4e-fans remained.

Will it be successful?

Upon release, it will be the biggest release yet. Sales will skyrocket as everyone will try to get their copies to try it out. The question is: how many of these people remain a year later? What about two years later? So far, 4e failed the 2 year anniversary (Essentials) while Pathfinder is still going strong. I have faith in Monte Cooke to provide a good, solid product.

What should Paizo do?

It's like everyone who is chatting to me (outside my non-gamer family) is asking me that question. The short answer: nothing. It serves Paizo little in blasting or starting an Edition War. I suspect Paizo will do what they do best: come up with some great products that sell on the basis of their awesomeness.

At this point, unless WotC makes D&D a retro-clone (which would greatly surprise me), I consider D&D4e+ and D&D1-3.5/Pathfinder to be completely different games. This makes the competition between Pathfinder/ 5e the same as the competition between Shadowrun, D&D, Palladium and Pathfinder: the competition is for players' time. A good product generates interest, a bad or aging sees its stock drop in the community.

My final assessment

I am cautiously optimistic about the whole deal. I want to see 5e succeed but fear it may get squashed in the WotC bureaucratic crap. There is little that is known so far other than to promote the fact that 5e will be community-driven. Although they will be running 5e games at D&DXP, which makes me think they already have a very extensive framework laid out for 5e.

I am not very trusting in anything Wizards say. experience have shown that they are great at saying what people want to hear, but the delivery is... Well like a politician. Their "Community Involvement" as play testers become known slowly (look around, it's not hard to figure who pt'd). I think it's a smokescreen and that the book is almost on the printers.


So there it is. I am cautiously optimistic with 5e.

We'll see.


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